JACKSON TWP.: It may be small consolation for the Jackson girls soccer team, but a 4-0 win Monday night at Rick Neitzelt Stadium over Suburban League champion Copley feels pretty good at this time of year.
Jackson senior and Ohio State recruit Caitlyn Patton scored two goals and senior goalkeeper Katie Kingsbury posted a shutout to lead the Polar Bears (10-3-1) to their fourth straight win.
For many years, Jackson has dominated the Federal League. However, this season, an upset loss to GlenOak and a tie with eventual champion Lake may prove to be a blessing in disguise for a squad now more focused as the district tournament draws near.
“It feels good to know we’re getting more consistent as the season goes on, and that we’re starting to play to our potential,” said Patton, now with six goals and nine assists this season.
Jackson coach Frank Gagliardi had high praise for Patton, who along with speedy junior Rachel Bender, gave Copley (9-5-1) problems the entire match.
“She’s incredible. She’s everywhere,” said Gagliardi when asked about Patton. “She’s very dominant as an athlete and yet her soccer experience shows on the field.”
Gagliardi also was pleased with the play of his defenders, led by senior stopper Mackenzie Cherniuk.
“We’ve had some games in which we’ve given up goals here and there that we thought were a little soft and they dealt with some very sophisticated players tonight and were able to keep it organized,” he said.
The Polar Bears had three times as many shots on goal as Copley and gradually wore down their opponent.
“They are big and strong, and they’ve got good pace,” Copley coach Wally Senk said. “It seemed like we were always on our heels. This was a very humbling experience.”
Copley senior goalkeeper Beth Moore, headed to St. Bonaventure, made 11 saves and played much better than the final score would indicate.
“I might be a little biased, but Beth is one of the best keepers in the state,” Senk said.
Moore made three tough saves early in the second half to keep it a 1-0 game, but Bender’s 10th goal of the season with 23:26 left made it 2-0. Senior Maddy Tletski and Patton added late goals to complete the scoring.
Junior Brooke Schmidt and freshman Elena Gutlove were credited with assists for Jackson.
Moore did manage to deflect each of Jackson’s first two goals, but was unable to keep either out of the net.
In the meantime, Kingsbury was not nearly as busy and had three stops, including back-to-back saves on Copley junior Jordan Cotleur with just over 18 minutes to play.
“I had a lot of help from my defense,” said Kingsbury, a Kent State recruit. “They all played very well.”
Trailing 1-0 at half, Copley’s best scoring chance in the first half came with 15 minutes gone when junior Brooke Benner’s shot glanced off the post.